As the year 2014 closes, it is appropriate to reflect on the many accomplishments of Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School and the achievements of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Here are just a few of the highlights that we posted into the media this year.
The Affiliation with Western Michigan University and Other Initiatives
We are now Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. WMU has endorsed our great law school by advancing our relationship to formal, named affiliation status. Students and alumni of both institutions will benefit greatly from this relationship. The respective faculties and administrators are already working on a host of initiatives, including an accelerated “3+3” program, a legal studies minor, and offering first-term law school courses on WMU’s main campus starting in September 2015. And the affiliation has been approved by our accrediting and licensing bodies.
We also obtained ABA approval for and opened our new foreign study program in Oxford, England to go with our outstanding programs in Australia and New Zealand and in Toronto.
Accolades We Received This Year
National Jurist magazine rated the Law School as 17th best in the nation for practical legal training.
We continued with our cross-campus environmental sustainability efforts as this year the Tampa Bay building was certified as environmentally friendly by the CERF organization.
The Law School’s West Michigan Public Defender’s Clinic received the Community Spirit Award for its impact in the Grand Rapids community from the LINC Community Revitalization organization.
Associate Dean Joan Vestrand and three graduates of the School were named 2014 Leaders in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. And Assistant Dean Tracy Brame and two alumnae were named to be among the top Women in the Law. Deans Vestrand and Brame thus join 11 other Law School faculty and administrators who have received high recognition from Michigan Lawyers Weekly over the years. No other law school comes even close to that level of recognition. To top it off, WMU-Cooley Law School Board of Directors member Thomas Cranmer was named the 2014 Lawyer of the Year by Lawyers Weekly.
WMU-Cooley Again Showed Its Commitment to Social Justice and Learning from Others
Collectively we made a real impact on the lives of others while enjoying many opportunities to learn.
Donya Davis was exonerated after serving seven years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Our WMU-Cooley Innocence Project faculty and students worked six years to finally have him freed. This story made national news
A refugee from Somalia, a Mexican father with four U.S. citizen children, and a refugee from Iraq gained release from federal detention through the work of our Immigrant Rights and Civil Advocacy Clinic faculty and students in Ann Arbor. This story likewise gained notoriety.
We continued our tradition of fighting human trafficking in important ways. Our Tampa Bay campus students and staff organized a program on the topic with the Hispanic Organization of Legal Advocates. And on a more hands-on note, Tampa Bay students and faculty helped renovate a safe house for the Selah Freedom Organization, a group that works against sex trafficking and exploitation.
Literally hundreds of Lansing-area children – many of whom are underprivileged – spent a day of fun and food at Cooley Law School Stadium as part of our 14th annual Cooley for Kids Day. For many, this was their first trip to a baseball game. And the Student Bar Association organized a wonderful Day at the Park event for Lansing-areas children.
Low-income residents of Avalon Housing Project’s Stinson Apartments in the Ann Arbor area benefited from the work of students and faculty in planting flowers to make their living place a little more beautiful.
Three students were honored by the Law School with great Deeds Awards this year for their outstanding service to the community. Marta Garland helped numerous charities and local organizations this year. Sarah Miller was recognized for her efforts with Kids Hope USA and the Heart of West Michigan United Way. And Keith Stickley was recognized for his pro bono bankruptcy and expungement work in conjunction with the Macomb County Veterans’ Treatment Court.
Judges from a number of courts came to the Law School this year to share their knowledge and experience with students. Foremost was the Florida Court of Appeal, which held oral argument of cases at our Tampa Bay campus, allowing students the chance to observe outstanding appellate advocacy.
Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley spoke at the Auburn Hills campus to mark 2014 Patriot’s Day.
Our Students and Faculty Accomplished Much
We are blessed with active and involved students and experienced and talented faculty who bring enormous energy and passion to the School. Here are a few highlights.
The WMU-Cooley Law Review organized an important symposium on how the current economy has affected the practice of law in both the private and public sectors. This symposium generated widespread publicity for the School.
Students and faculty collaborated with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schutte to create the Military Family Law Guide, a handbook for lawyers and judges about family law issues involving members of the armed forces.
Student Aaron Sohaski was elected national chairperson, and fellow student Samantha Jonas was elected governor to the Sixth Circuit, of the American Bar Association Law Student Division the group’s Board of Governors meeting in Charleston, S.C.
Our chapter of the Delta Theta Phi national law fraternity received the honor of being selected to edit the fraternity’s annual law journal.
Professors Heather Garretson, Tonya Krause-Phelan, Jane Siegel, and Kara Zech Thelen together published in the Journal of Legal Education a leading article on effective teaching methods.
Professor Mark Cooney published a practical work on research and writing targeted at law students nationally in the American Bar Association’s Student Lawyer magazine.
Professor Michael McDaniel moderated an important national homeland security and defense education summit.
The Law School’s Auburn Hills campus and Professor David Berry hosted leading patent lawyers at the United States Patent & Trademark Office roundtable on patent review proceedings.
Our Alumni Continued Their Leadership in the Profession
Our alumni, now numbering more than 18,000, continue to achieve throughout the nation and around the world.
Nine of our alumni were named among 30 Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s “Up and Coming Lawyers,” which reported that they “have excelled in their profession and are standouts among their peers.” No other law school came close in numbers to ours.
Graduates Tom Rombach (Morse Class, 1987) and Lawrence Nolan (Cooley Class, 1976) were sworn in as President and Vice-President, respectively, of the State Bar of Michigan. And Kevin Robinson (Reid Class, 2006) became President of the West Virginia State Bar. You can read more about these three gentlemen in the latest issue of Benchmark.
We wish you the very best for a Happy, Healthy, and Successful 2015!
See much more about WMU-Cooley on the web at wmich.edu/law.